Ameliorate vs alleviate

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Ameliorate means to improve a negative circumstance or situation, to make something substandard or unsatisfactory, better. Ameliorate describes a positive change in a circumstance or situation, it is often used to describe financial situations. Ameliorate comes from the French word, améliorer, meaning better. Related words are ameliorates, ameliorated, ameliorating, ameliorative, ameliorator.

Alleviate means to ease the suffering from a specific circumstance or situation, to make something difficult, easier to bear. Alleviate may also mean to decrease. It comes from the Late Latin word alleviatus, which means to lighten. Related words are alleviates, alleviated, alleviating, alleviator.  Remember, ameliorate describes changing a circumstance or situation for the better, alleviate only describes easing the suffering attached to a bad circumstance or situation.


“These billion-dollar companies should help ameliorate the impact they’re having,” Mr. Peskin said. (The New York Times)

Alexis Tsipras will participate in the summit, in order to discuss ways to ameliorate the collaboration between Greece and Turkey in various sectors, but as well as the refugee and migrant issue. (The Greek Reporter)

In any case, the two trends that Neumann cites could help to ameliorate any problems resulting from China’s aging workforce if they come to be just as he predicts. (The Business Insider)

Some hospitals are now using texts to communicate with patients and families before, during and after some surgeries to help alleviate anxiety. (USA Today)

Numerous other countries, including the UK, the EU and other individual member states have contributed funds to help alleviate the crisis, with many concerned it echoed the devastating drought of the 1980s, which caused widespread famine and killed hundreds of thousands of people. (Public Finance International)

“It is our belief that this policy will alleviate the community’s concern over its use as a control technique while providing officers in deadly force situations every available means to survive those encounters,” Interim Chief Eddie Garcia said in a statement. (The San Jose Mercury News)